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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    UA should face up to real problems instead of blaming Greeks

    Everyone hates a hypocrite. Ignoring one’s own strong faults is one thing, but focusing on the weakness of someone else is quite another. Such is the case when elements of a community irrationally find many of their faults in a single vulnerable, vilified scapegoat.

    One need not delve into the topic: the UA has its issues. Perhaps the most abysmal statistic would be the roughly one-third of students who graduate in four years. If only we could find someone someone to to unload our insecurities upon, throw stones at and drive off campus. This would at least make us feel more cheery, if for some reason it doesn’t please the gods and end our suffering. Enter the Greek-letter organization.

    As I mentioned last week, the caricature of the fraternity man offers quite the target for contempt. (“”Fraternities need to shape up,”” April 1, 2009) Some members of Greek organizations do things that are bad, and all members are certainly human with at least one fault or another. Yet the first student in a fraternity I ever talked to was smooth, intelligent and apparently good-looking enough that just being around him caused gorgeous upperclass women to talk to me, although they were only asking me what his name was. He graduated within four years in marketing, creative writing and entrepreneurship with a 3.98 GPA, followed by a 166 LSAT score. Still, this is not the stuff of which stereotypes are made.

    Then again, if we’re going to generalize, let’s at least be a little logical and favor statistics over stereotypes. Statistics say that Greeks drink more than non-Greeks, but alcohol helped fuel the military training and morale of the American revolutionaries and has been a staple of most human communal activities for the last 5,500 years of our civilization. The booze statistic is largely a result of America’s post-high school culture and “”Fratty Guy A”” being more involved in social activities than “”Unfratty Dude B””.

    For the average Greek, the statistics are strong: service hours, philanthropy money raised and GPAs are all relatively high. However if one desires to find clubs full of Blutos, Otters and Flounders, the depraved days of Animal House are very much over. Arbitrarily judging and punishing entire organizations based on the actions of a select few is rarely a logical and informed decision.

    Still, stereotypes persist in the imagination, fueled by prejudice, and the result is unfortunate. Non-members tend to view fraternities in a negative light, often for no reason other than bias in society and second-hand bad experience. More troubling, however, are the holier-than-thou university officials who feed off this anti-Greek sentiment and decry the impious influence of the fraternities.

    The university establishment fights to remove the Greek blight from our midst, threatening entire organizations rather than individuals with the lack of its hallowed recognition in draconian guilt-by-association fashion. Sure, there are some great professors, and somewhere along the line there’s a diploma printer seemingly worth more than the gross domestic product of a small nation. Yet does our institution really strive in its mission “”to discover, educate, serve, and inspire””?

    Grammar, logic and rhetoric were the three foundational paths of a liberal arts education. Nevertheless, to get into a rhetoric class one must apply to be an English major, wait a semester, make a deal with the devil to get into the class through WebReg, which is located in between the third and fourth circles of Hell, but is obviously closed at night because after sundown the Internet sleeps. The university claims to champion diversity and tolerance as one of its main tenets, yet it pretends that only a few, politically correct minorities are “”diverse”” enough for our taxes and skyrocketing tuition money and it refuses to tolerate different sources of education offered by Greek organizations.

    As I mentioned last week, other organizations operate in stark contrast to the countless good deeds of our Greek ones, but never face the loss of university recognition. Many official and club organizations drink and haze without a word of kicking them off campus.

    This is a clear example of the university’s priority of politics over principle. It takes sports teams, dorms and even individuals out of the picture, focusing its wrath upon fraternities. Evaluating its actions, the university bureaucrats seem to have far more trouble adhering to its values than Greek organizations do. But you wouldn’t know it by judging the way they make it seem like they’re smiting the wicked Greeks by throwing lightning bolts at them from the clouded summit of Mount Olympus.

    According to the Council for the Advancement of Standards in Higher Education, the tradition-based philosophies of Greek organizations can cultivate and provide strong intellectual, spiritual, social and leadership development, loyalty to the university (read: “”retention and alumni donations””), involvement on campus and appreciation for different cultures. Even a light experience with Greek Life can demonstrate the reality of such successes. The university pours our money into junk leadership education that tosses away real experience in favor of “”social justice”” indoctrination.

    Aside from offering intense leadership experience, fraternities’ purpose is a unique effort towards the sort of individual and social development that the university claims to offer but rarely truly does. We ought to put the shortcomings of the fraternity stereotype behind us along with the rest of the ’90s. It’s time we focus on making our own lives better and holding our institutions accountable for their real defects.

    – Daniel Greenberg is a political science junior. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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